SDCC 2012 TV Recap: Saturday

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All throughout the convention this year, lines were an issue. I mention this at the top because I missed the first two panels I’d intended to cover on Saturday, Warehouse 13 and Once Upon a Time, due to lengthy lines. It’s hard to get an accurate image of the lines without a helicopter, but here’s a tiny, tiny idea of what it’s like. The wonderful upside to this is that you’re usually neighbored on at least one side by very cool, interesting people who you’d otherwise never meet. Many people opt out of the largest halls/panels, and by extension longest lines, but if you want to see the most popular projects or celebrities, you’re gonna have to park it for at least a couple hours. This year, Twilight, Firefly, and Iron Man 3/The Hobbit were responsible for the longest waits. It’ll be interesting to see what fills that gap next year, now that the Twilight films are finishing up and, barring some amazing development that would’ve been announced here and wasn’t, there shouldn’t be a Firefly panel either.

After the obligatory several hours in line, and a lovely chat with some San Diego natives, mostly about Terriers, I was able to get into Ballroom 20, where I was able to see…

Futurama

This panel was an absolute blast. It quickly became clear that the most sure-fire way to make a panel fun is to people it with voice actors. Most of the cast was present and they had lots of fun passing back and forth and jumping in to comment as the various characters they voice. This was also the panel with by far the clearest structure, and it definitely benefited from this. We saw a clip from an upcoming episode, ”Fun on a Bun”, then found out a bit about the upcoming episodes from the characters, rather than actors or moderator, and then were treated to a three-minute draw-off between Matt Groening and director Stephen Sandoval, with Billy West and John DiMaggio on play-by-play and color commentary as Howard Cosell and Tracy Morgan. Afterwards, the floor opened up to fan questions, and the panel finished up with a costume contest. Everyone who’d come to the panel dressed in a Futurama costume came up front and the panel chose a winner- Zoidberg! The costumes were creative and fun and it was great to see a little love sent out to the fans who’d gone the extra mile with their Futurama love. Next up was…

The Simpsons

A surprising number of fans left after the Futurama panel and for quite a while at the beginning, the crowd was noticeably disengaged. It may not have helped that there was only one member of the voice cast, but more than anything, it seemed people were in the room early for other panels they were interested in, rather than to see The Simpsons. The structure may not have helped either- while we did get to see a great Maggie-centric short, “The Longest Daycare”, which will be screening in front of the latest Ice Age movie, it was shown at the very end of the panel. By that point, the crowd was loving it, but putting this at the top would’ve gone a long way towards engaging the audience. The other less-than-stellar element was the fan Q&A, which featured several questions the audience already knew the answers to, including a young girl’s, “Which Springfield is it?”. No one groaned or booed, to their credit, but this panel demonstrated how big a difference having good questions can make to the overall success of a panel. Things took a turn, though, when Carrie Fischer came on stage for a brief, and somewhat bizarre, cameo. After popping up and throwing some Duff to the crowd, she was asked to leave, as she’s somehow never been on the show. Finally, as I’ve mentioned, they went out strong with, “The Longest Daycare”, which, much like “La Luna” and Brave, is good enough to warrant the price of admission to the new Ice Age film alone, regardless of your interest in that. Continuing the animation panel block was…

Family Guy

Like Futurama, Family Guy brought along its voice cast, as well as writers and producers, resulting in a more entertaining panel. After an extended clip reel, we got started and, though not quite to Nathan Fillion’s level of panel-friendliness, Seth Green proved himself to be a great person to have at the table, providing many of the laughs and keeping the momentum moving smoothly. Fans were clearly excited about the upcoming season, with many providing entertaining highlights, including a dead-on Herbert impressionist asking if he’d be making an appearance this year, and a fan with a jar of mayonnaise that he was eating by the spoonful, to the utter bafflement of the panel. The guests were having a blast and the crowd was into it, so it ended up as a fun hour. Next was…

American Dad

As with Family Guy, this started with an extended clip reel, though this one was highly stylized in full on psychedelic ‘60s fashion. Then the cast and crew came out for another large, entertaining panel. It’s worth noting how good Seth McFarlane is at these. Most of the questions ended up being for him, with lots of mentions of Ted, and he did a good job of throwing things around to the other panelists somewhat and keeping the more film-centric answers brief and the focus on American Dad. The fan questions were pretty standard, though not quite as fun as they were for Family Guy, and to close the panel, they showed another clip reel, this one with footage of Rachel McFarlane (who voices Haley) singing a song from her upcoming album. Afterwards the animation tagged out and the genre fun began with…

The Vampire Diaries

While a number of people left after American Dad, it quickly became clear that most of the people in Ballroom 20 were there for one of the two final panels, TVD and True Blood. After showing a reel with clips from the entire run of the series, as well as peeks at what’s to come next season, the panelists came out to thunderous applause and cheers. Much of the cast was there, as well as creator/showrunner Julie Plec, and producer Kevin Williamson acted as moderator. Williamson did a great job moderating, keeping the questions fun and making sure everyone got fairly equal time. Not surprisingly when it went to fan Q&A Ian Sommerhalder got most of the cast questions, but by far the majority of the audience questions were directed towards Julie Plec, averting any fears of the panel turning into little more than a Stelena or Delena lovefest/shipping war. At one point the PtB in the hall muted a fan’s mic when they thought she was going to just express her love of the show without asking a question, but the cast cried foul and emphatically requested, to perhaps the loudest cheer of the hour, that no one be censored. Much like with the Firefly panel, this was a fun one to sit in on just because of the love the fans clearly have for the property and creators, which was also the case with…

True Blood

The final panel of the day, True Blood was definitely the most athletic panel of the Con, at least so far. After a trailer of almost completely new footage (filled with big reveals of where the season may be headed), the panel came out to cheers that almost rivaled the Browncoats on Friday. This was for the most part a lovefest between the cast and creator Alan Ball, but they took time out to give Magic Mike’s Joe Manganiello a hard time about his newfound strippery fame. This led to Manganiello doing a body roll, which led to a challenge to Rutina Wesley, which she accepted, which led to Alan Ball strutting his stuff, all to the massive approval of the crowd. At least one more body roll popped up during the panel, as well as Ryan Kwanten being coerced into doing a handstand and walking across the stage, but there were plenty of more serious questions too, including Steven Moyer getting a chance to discuss his experiences directing one of the upcoming episodes. The fan questions were for the most part entertaining and the cast are clearly one that enjoy each other and working together, and their enthusiasm was just as infectious as the crowd’s. Also worth a note is that they handed out tickets to all the fans for swag bags to be picked up later, including a t-shirt, book, notebook, X-Box Live one-month subscription, and plenty of other goodies, perhaps showing part of why fans of this show are so enthusiastic- they absolutely feel appreciated. After going over by a solid 20 minutes (as the last panel of the day in the room, this wasn’t an issue), the day came to an end.

2 Comments
  1. Jon Gallagher says

    Hi Kate,

    Terriers *and* Chicago Code, right?

    Glad you finally got in. Marian and I got into same great panels in 6BCF (QuickDraw and Cartoon Voices, FTW!) and the preview for The Following (holeee crap that’s bloody!).

    My email is attached to this comment, and marian’s the same as mine (with her first name in place of mine). I’ve added Sound on Sight to my must read list now, because of the quality of their correspondents.

    All the best,
    Jon

  2. Matt Marquissee says

    Sounds like an amazing time. The lines are crazy but no matter which room you stick with, it seems there are fun panels. And the Hall H stuff is heavily reported on. “Lesser” rooms, not so much. So, thanks for that. You must post a swag list at the end. Free stuff = win.

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